Author's Note: My sincerest gratitude for my Editor Priestess of Groove, who always made sure that my story is readable.
Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass in any way or form.
Recommend: For best viewing pleasure, set you width to ½.
The Black Knight proved to be a dynamic aspect of the battle that Lelouch V Britannia, the ninety-ninth Emperor of the Holy Britannia Empire, had underestimated. And that miscalculation had denied him his victory and what historians would later call the "Battle of Judgment."
As soon as Lelouch proclaimed that he had slain his Father, the ninety-eighth Emperor in front of the Royal Court, and his intent to assume the throne, an uprising had started. Any member of the Royal Family that didn't come under control of Lelouch's Geass power were hunted down and imprisoned.
Under the guise of justice and the banner of righteousness, Schneizel, the second prince of the Holy Britannia Empire, rallied the forces that opposed Lelouch's recent change of laws and decrees, and whatever forces the United Federation of Nations and the Black Knight could muster. He confronted Lelouch when the new Emperor took the entire United Federation delegates hostage during a supposed peace negotiation.
The situation was so utterly chaotic that almost all of the armed forces within the Empire disregarded any calls for reinforcements from either side, except for those under their direct command.
Numerically, Schneizel had the advantage. With their Empress as the acting member of the United Federation Council and the close proximity to Japan, the Chinese Federation mobilized almost its entire force in response as soon as the report of abduction was confirmed. Led by the newly elected leader, the Black Knight raised their flag and joined forces with Schneizel against their former commander.
Although outnumbered almost three to one. Lelouch held his advantage in quality. Every solider that he brought with him to Japan were all under his Geass influence. Anyone would lay down their life for their Emperor if commanded. They knew no fear just unyielding devotion to Lelouch.
The battle was fought to a stalemate after the first few hours, with both sides probing each others possible weaknesses. The situation turned when a small contingent of Black Knight, led by Kallen and supported by the elements of the Chinese Federation, broke past every layer of defense that Lelouch had planned and critically damaged his flagship, the Avalon, forcing him to surrender.
In exchange for the return of the hostages and the cessation of hostilities, Lelouch requested conditional withdrawal of all his surviving forces in the theater and safe passage for all his personnel. In return, Lelouch himself would be present on Schneizel's flagship – the sky fortress Damocles.
The offer was too irresistible to pass up by Schneizel. He brushed aside fierce objections from his staffs and Ohgi Kaname – the newly elected Black Knight leader and the former second in command when Lelouch was once their leader.
"My Lord, we have to finish him and his forces once and for all!" One of the generals protested heatedly.
"I concur, My Lord. Those who fought against us will cause more trouble in the future."
"He is cunning and resourceful if left unchecked," Ohgi began but was then silenced by a raised hand.
"Gentlemen, I understand your concerns, but my brother gave me his word. As long as we stand by our pre-established conditions, he will surrender himself before me. There shall be no more bloodshed," Schneizel stated firmly.
"My Lord is merciful..."
The praises echoed amongst the crowd.
Schneizel smiled but then he quickly turned solemn.
"We still have much to do, please see to it that the ceasefire is carried out and all the prisoners are treated fairly."
"Oh, and by the way, Ohji-San," Schneizel stopped the new Black Knight leader before the door, "I congratulate you on a job well done. Without them, this battle would have been exceptionally bloody. I owe you and your knights my sincerest gratitude." He dipped his head for emphasis.
Ohgi flushed slightly and bowed back before exiting the conference room.
"Mr. Ried," Schneizel's tone dropped a few octanes lower
The man stepped away from the wall, "My Lord?"
"Prepare your crews." A menacing smirk appeared on his face. "I shall give you that hero's death that you talked about so much this day."
Diethard's face lit up with excitement. "You shall not disappoint, My Lord." And with that he hurried out of the room, following the others.
"So this is how it ends," Kannon Maldini whispered.
"No." Schneizel sat on one of the recliner and rest fully into the cushion, closing his eyes.
"This is how it begins," he corrected and then looked over his shoulder, "and contact Professor Kassel, tell him that his most treasured possession will be back to him shortly."
Lelouch and C.C. stood side by side in the docking bay, under guard by ranks of Black Knights. All around them, the prisoners and the wounded from both sides had been gathered and treated. They were waiting for a transport to take Lelouch to the Damocles for 'questioning.'
"You don't have to do this," C.C. murmured, her slender fingers seeking his. "He will have you crucified in front of the World."
"I expect nothing less from him." Their digits laced together. "After all, he is the ultimate victor of this conflict," Lelouch said and then paused for a moment. "Maybe you can reconsider passing the code to me now; maybe I will be better off that way." The corner of his mouth perked up, almost mockingly.
Lelouch winced slightly as C.C.'s nails dug into the back of his hand.
"No one shall ever suffer the same fate that I have, Lelouch," her voice trailed off. She opened her mouth, but then closed it. She had been doing that quite a bit lately.
"I must apologize," Lelouch said softly. The noises in the background almost eclipsed his words.
"About?" She asked quietly, her eyes fixating on one of the approaching aircraft. Her quiet demeanor was really unsettling.
"For going back on my promise. I promised on that day to return smiles to you again and I can't fulfill that now," Lelouch replied, looking down at her.
She turned until his indigo and her golden gaze locked unwaveringly. "You have done much more than that, Lelouch." He felt the slight pressure from their conjoined palms and he squeezed back reflexively. "You've reminded me what it means to be human again," she said and a stray tear escaped from beneath her lashes. "You have far exceeded my expectations."
Lelouch turned fully toward her and wiped off the droplet with the back of his hand.
"C-Two…," his own voice quivered slightly, filled with emotion.
"That is enough," one of the guards barked, his rifle leveled against them. "You treacherous monster, you have betrayed our trust and you turned your back against the world. You do not deserve a moment like…"
The man hitched, stepping back involuntarily as Lelouch's face flared up in anger, the Geass symbols clearly visible in both eyes. The man's eyes narrowed in fear even behind the protective eye goggles. Just as Lelouch was about to speak, a whoosh of torrents announced the arrival of yet another transport, and then Britannia Regulars ran down the opening ramp.
"Traitor Lelouch, by the order of Lord Schneizel, you are hereby under arrest for treason," a Britannia officer proclaimed triumphantly, waving his pistol provokingly at him.
"Hmph," Lelouch snorted coldly at the display. He turned back to C.C.
"This is where we bid our farewell, witch," Lelouch said, unable to meet her eyes. "Under the ceasefire agreement, no one would be prosecuted but me—"
Before he could finish, C.C. tug his hands downward until their lips molded together, their tongues entwined so briefly before they were pulled apart forcefully.
"Lelouch!" C.C. yelped
Lelouch's eyes winded in surprised as C.C. was suddenly restrained by a pair of Britannia soldiers, and then he saw a third uncap an injector.
"What is the…" His snarl was cut short by a sharp pain by the side of his neck and his world went black all of a sudden. The last thing he remembered were her golden hues, filled with unshed tears, immense sadness and above all, resignation.
Lelouch winced at the sudden bright beam shinning in his face, which was so intense he thought he might lose his vision. He tried to shield his eyes, but then he realized he was being pinned by the throbbing pain of his limbs and shoulders.
Over to the side he heard someone say, "He is awake, sir."
"Good. Notify Colonel Maldini right away. Setup the display there…"
Lelouch couldn't concentrate on their conversation while his thoughts spiraled and nausea forced him to clench his jaw. But just as he found the light more bearable, it was suddenly removed from him and he was plunged to darkness.
"Lelouch, how do you feel?" He heard Schneizel's voice purr over to the right.
"Much better, Nee-san. I didn't know you feared me so much that you needed to sedate me," Lelouch replied in what he thought would be a mild tone, even as his heart thumped loudly in his chest.
"I must apologize for my men's insolence; an emperor should never be treated as such. I promise you that Nunnally will never be treated like this," Schneizel droned on. Even without looking at his face, Lelouch knew that he was smiling.
"Oh? That is indeed a surprise to me," he swallowed discretely. "With my defeat you should no longer need Nunnally to assert your own ambitions for world domination. Why use a puppet when everything is already within your grasp?" Lelouch was dismayed to hear his own voice trembled.
"Fear not, my dear brother. As much as I wanted to assume the throne, I could never allow myself to go against the will of the World," Schneizel said.
"HA! Will of the World. Don't make me laugh! You never cared about anyone else's opinion. With the Damocles you can simply subdue the world into submission." Lelouch replied. He suddenly realized he could now see faint shapes in the dark.
"You are such a worthy adversary." Schneizel's smirking feature appeared on the monitor setup a few paces from where he was gagged. Lelouch's allowed his eyes to roam his surroundings. Four soldiers and an officer stood roughly an arm's length away forming a semi-circle, all wearing dark shade glasses. He could see more movement in his peripheral vision and knew that he was completely circled. He could now tell his head was also strapped in place, and if the increased aches in his shoulder were any indication, he thought he might be strapped to a crucifix.
How fitting, Lelouch mused inwardly. Demon King crucified on the cross, and thus began the suffering of the world.
Lelouch's reveries must have reflected on his face because he heard Schneizel's said "You find this amusing? All the guards were issued special goggles to counter your Geass," there was a slight edge to his voice, "Oh, and speaking of which, a young woman requested to spare your life in place of hers…"
Lelouch could have sworn his heart stopped beating. There were only two people that had such leverage over Schneizel; one would be used as a puppet to rule the world, and the other…
A small PIP box showed up on the monitor, and Lelouch squinted his eyes at it. It showed a group of people in white laboratory coats working on what looked like a cryogenic pod. And one of them vacated his space…
"Schneizel! You have defeated and captured me. You can humiliate me however you want, now let her go," Lelouch screamed at his brother.
A satisfying grin spread across Schneizel's feature. "Under normally circumstances I would, dear brother. I could not tolerate torture any more than the unnecessary taking of human life. " Schneizel made sure that he put a special emphasis on the word 'torture.' He knew that Lelouch did not fear death. The only way to truly crush him would be to hurt the one closest to him, and from his reaction, Schneizel knew that his assumption had been spot on. When the Grey Witch made the communiqué to spare Lelouch's life in exchange for herself and with the specific term layout by Lelouch, he put the two together.
"But C.C. insisted that she was far more valuable than you are, in which Professor Kassel concurred keenly." Schneizel cast a quick glance to said man, who was hopping around enthusiastically like a rejuvenated child. Schneizel smirked at Lelouch and said, "You and father have been keeping the Grey Witch to yourself for far too long. It is time that you share the fortune," he reasoned matter-of-factly. "She is only a tool to you, right? She granted you the Power of Geass so you could further your scheme. All I wanted was the secret behind her immortality. " He suddenly chuckled.
"Settle down, Lelouch. If what Professor told me was true then no matter what is done to her, she will still come back alive." Schneizel mock reassuringly.
In the split screen, C.C.'s face was deathly pale. She bit down on her lip so hard that blood started trickling down her chin. As the technicians worked feverishly to prepare her for the capsule, one man in a lab coat approached her side and placed a hand on her bare abdomen and whispered in her ears. C.C.'s eyes widened in horror as the man's finger stroked her skin in a perverted manner.
"Don't hurt my baby," she shrieked, wriggling ineffectively against her restraints.
The outburst hit Lelouch like a physical force; the back of his head hit the restraining harness with a loud "thud." The reason behind her recent unexplained hesitations and indecisiveness was finally clear to him.
Lying on his side, Lelouch stared unblinkingly at the woman whom he shared his bed with, her emerald colored tresses shining in the moonlight through the elegant French window. He fought back the urge to wipe the few strands covering her face. She slept so lightly the tiniest movement disturbed her.
Watching her sleep had become one of his favorite pastimes. The air of toughness would melt away and she would transform back into the innocent girl that he stumbled upon, which she purposely kept locked in memory.
Ever since his forced exile to Area Eleven, Lelouch had resigned to his fate; his uselessness against his father's will and the regime that the Empire stood for. He would brood over for hours at a time in seclusion at the injustice and yet had to maintain a cheerful appearance in front of Nunnally and friends. His remorse and uncertainty tormented him relentlessly, turning him short of a walking corpse, who carried on with pointless chores that meant nothing more than a façade. At the most dreadful moment, when his soul was plunging ever deeper into the depth of darkness, he met her.
When they formed their contract in the abandoned tunnel of the subway, she was an ageless, immortal and mystifying Witch. She granted him Geass – the Power of the Kings, the ability to command anyone on sight for what ever his bidding might be. A potent weapon he could weld, to achieve his goals, and the ability to fight back against the inequality that plagued the World. But more importantly, her aura of wisdom gave him the courage to stand up against his father. The air of invincibility she projected gave him the confidence to lead the Black Knights against the Empire.
Their partnership evolved through some of their accidental "mind fusions." It was not everyday that you are able to share one another's memory from their infancy to adulthood, along with their most cherished moments and most horrible nightmares. He would later admit, that some of the images made him heave in disgust while others raised resentment against all the men that she had ever been with. He also discovered that she was not as cold and uncaring as everyone thought she was - that her insecurities were usually disguised by her seemingly detached and heartless apathy. And her loneliness was masked by carefully fostered cynicisms.
The dynamic of their relationship altered shortly after the "Tokyo Massacre," where Lelouch personally put a bullet through the head of his half sister, Euphemia Li Britannia, whom he cared most after his crippled sister. Through no fault of his own, Lelouch cast the Geass command onto Euphemia by a supposed joke about killing the citizens in Area Eleven. He didn't know at the time that his Geass power was fully active, but that didn't prevent him from going into a nervous breakdown.
At the safe house, when Lelouch was reciting Euphey's initial resistance to his Geass command, his mind has already been numbed by grief and his heart teeming with sorrow. He didn't remember when he stopped talking. All his efforts were concentrated on chocking down the sob that threatened to burst from his lungs.
He felt her familiar touch take hold of his fisted hands. Her soft hair cascaded around him like waterfall, bathing him in the calming scent of spring flowers. He didn't know which was more comforting: her soft touches or the fact that she promised to be by his side in all things.
He cried. He wept brokenly in her embrace. For as long as he could remember, he had not cried like that, not at his mother's murder scene, not even at Nunnally's deathbed after she was rescued. His pride as a prince of Britannia did not allow for such occurrence, but he was no longer a prince and C.C. was her with him. She knew all about his regrets in the past, his hatreds for his enemies, his doubts for the future, and his anxieties for potential failures. Her soft word and tender touches were thawing away all his burdens, and before he realized what was happening, her lips were on his and Lelouch was kissing her back fervently, devouring her, drinking her in, inhaling her scent.
Her lips were so soft, her taste was so sweet, and her flesh was so hot it further fueled his desire for the inevitable. When Lelouch gritted his teeth, his lungs burned under the exertion and his body shuddered at the release. It was only then that he realized the scope of their action. She had said nothing; her golden orbs stared intently into his velvet ones. Before he could utter a sound, C.C. drew him down into her embrace yet again and held him close.
Lelouch woke alone the next morning. If not for his naked body under the bed sheet and the faint fragrance of C.C. he would have thought it had been a dream.
"I won't get pregnant," C.C. said nonchalantly when Lelouch confronted her after days of chasing her down.
"That was not—" Lelouch gaped at the response.
"I need you to focus on achieving your goal so you can fulfill mine. You need not concern yourself with anything else." She stared back blankly before turning away.
Only if that is true.
A faint stir brought him out of his reveries; he focused his eyes at the green-haired beauty by his side. Her long hairs cascaded down the arm that draped across his torso.
"Can't sleep?" Her voice slurred sleepily.
"Just thinking." A corner of his mouth perked up. It was amazing the things she knew without looking.
"You have been doing that a lot lately." Her eyes opened slowly and they twinkled under the moonlight. "Having second thoughts?"
"No," Lelouch replied, shaking his head, "it has to be carried out. For the future peace of the world."
Her arm left his body as if she was getting out of bed. For the last few weeks, her mood would turn strangely gloomy when subject matter concerned Zero Requiem. He did not dare question though. All the pieces were nearly in place and they were days away from commencing phase one of the plan. Lelouch suspected that it had something to do with his inability to fulfill her wish, but when he tried broaching the subject once he was met by a weeklong silent treatment.
He hadn't tried since. If he was to sacrifice himself for the world, the least that he could do for her was to keep some part of his promise. He was pampering her to beyond his tolerance; he went as far as assigning royal chef dedicated for making her the pizzas that she craved. He wanted to at least bring some smiles back to her face.
Instead of her leaving, he felt the bed dipped beside him as C.C. scoot closer. The banes before his eyes were tugged away by her slender fingers, and then she slid her palm to his cheeks, stroking them lightly with her thumb.
"What about your happiness?" She whispered. He could see her eyes gleaming even in the dark.
Lelouch snorted softly. "I gave up mine when my father exiled us. At least now Nunnally's happiness will be assured." He finished quietly, his hand coming up to cover hers.
They gazed at one another until Lelouch was force to blink, and then C.C. murmured, "If my wish is for you not to carry out Zero Requiem, would you do it?"
Lelouch's eyes widened in surprise, his throat instantly went dry, "Is it…your wish?"
C.C. stared intently into his eyes, searching, seeking, and after a long pause, she turned around, press herself fully into him, pulling his hand over to rest on her belly.
"Let us sleep."
"Onii-Sama, please! I beg of you, don't do this! You've won, I would do anything that you ask of me. Please don't do this to her! She has suffered enough," Lelouch pleaded. He didn't feel the tears slide down from his left eye.
"Oh my." A corner of Schneizel's mouth curved up with the utmost satisfaction. "The Gods have blessed me with this day," Schneizel murmured. He motioned to the men from the Geass Order to continue with a slight nod. His eyes never left Lelouch's face on the monitor.
"YAMERO," Lelouch shouted. The cover on the cryo pod closed down, and within, C.C. continued to struggle. Lelouch's eyes widened with such terror his pupils contracted nearly to slits. His body lurched forward, ignoring the pain caused by the shackles digging into his flesh. The soldiers around him readied their assault rifles and sub-machine guns, preparing to shoot at a moment's notice.
"She is my most important-my most important person on this world. Father didn't take her away from me and neither will you," he screamed at the monitor, not caring how undignified he looked spraying the screen with his saliva.
Unknown to his brother and the soldiers around him, the images of C.C. been crucified, burned alive, raped, and tortured flashed before his very eyes. Unlike the "Memory Fusion" they had shared on Kamine Island, this was ten times more intense. He could feel his blood start to boil with an unbelievable rage.
The temperament was something much more primal, much more elemental from within the core of his darkened soul. A blinding, white hot fury fumed and seethed like venom, its ferociousness spread throughout his every veins. It rattled his bones and swelled across his muscles and limbs, making his shackles jingle like Christmas bells against the harness.
He had never experience such anger in his life, not before his father in front of the Royal Court when he denied Lelouch's request for an in depth investigation at his mother's assassination. Not at Kamine Island when Suzaku made groundless accusations against his actions, or at Nunnally's bedside--watching her getting treated after the ambush--not even when he was facing his own parents – the Emperor and the Empress, denouncing their selfish scheme for their own distorted illusion in the World of C.
He was enraged with his useless body. Even with the Power of the Kings he still needed others to carry out his deeds. There were so many instances where he wished to have the might and the capacity to resolve the crisis by brute force – force like the ones that Suzaku possessed. There would be far less suffering and needless sacrifices.
If I had more power within my grasp, if I could have the strength towield it with my hands…
His heart battered at his rib cage and shockwaves of his pulse rippled throughout his body. The rhythm was gaining weight and momentum after each beat. He could feel his lungs being crushed by the overwhelming force. He tilted his head back in a vain attempt to gasp for more air, but his vision were blurred by a sinister shadow that was slowly but surely swallowed up the world as he knew it.
I don't want to lose her…
That was his last thought before he lost consciousness.
Do you desire strength? His father's voice rumbled within his head.
Do you desire forgiveness? His mother's voice whirled within his heart.
Do you desire immortality just like hers? C.C.'s voice poised within his soul.
No. Another inner voice resonated.
To be with her. His own voice echoed with definite.
To Be Continue...
Onii-San/Sama – Brother/Formal
Yamero – Stop/Don't Do It